Jess’s mum never really expected her to become an international rower.
She started going out in boats after Steve Redgrave’s Project Oarsome came to her school, 18 kids on the bus down to Hollingworth Lake slowly whittling down to one, the little sculler with the curly blonde hair.
Then, onwards to national level competition, and all of a sudden, podium finishes and victories. She doesn’t give up on things, Jess – if she decides she’s going to do something, she’ll keep it up. Sharon’d said, ‘You get yourself a hobby, Jess’, but she didn’t expect it to take her this far.
Up and up, then, and into the British Rowing set-up. There had never been a British international women’s single scull gold medallist until Jess won at the 2013 World Junior Championships in Lithuania, which left one big question. Was she going to make it to Rio?
If it’s to her credit that such a young, inexperienced rower made it to within a couple of places of qualifying, in reality the 2016 Games was never truly in reach – but Tokyo’s a different story. She won’t let anything get in her way this time.
And if you want to know just how she’s going to do it, stick around.
Shit’s going down.